Hallelujah!!! In the midst of the 2014 Arctic Vortex, KJ came home from the hospital yesterday! Wow, he really is a SUPERHERO, and he's only 5!
This is a major step in his recovery process. While many baby steps lie ahead, KJ continues to amaze doctors with how he's faced his recovery challenges with such grace and determination.
During is home based recovery, mom and dad will be more hands on. Making sure KJ takes 11 pills every morning, 6 pills every night, checking his blood pressure twice a day, and running his IV machine daily. I'm sure this can be overwhelming for anyone, however, God doesn't give you more than you can bear. Tamiko has such grace and patience. Keith is strong and determined. And, together, they are focused.
As we wrapped up 2013, my family began what we knew would be a long journey. One that would be life-saving for my 5 year old nephew Keith Jr., (KJ). Since his bone marrow transplant in late November, he has made incredible strides that continue to amaze his doctors! For this reason, 2013 was a GREAT year and 2014 has so much in store for KJ, his mom, dad and twin brothers. KJ remains hospitalized as he recovers and is doing well. Last night, in his hospital room, he and his parents celebrated their new beginning with a toast at the stroke of midnight! God is SO GOOD!!!!! Happy New Year to my sister and her beautiful family!
It's been 9 days since KJ's bone marrow transplant. Most days KJ is full of energy and smiling. Doctors are still amazed of how well he's doing despite undergoing chemo and transplant. However, I'm struggling to hold back the tears as I watch the side effects of chemo slowly change his physical appearance, the darkening of his skin, especially around his neck and under his eyes. This morning hair is everywhere! All over the pillows and sheets. It's happening the one thing he was most afraid of, loosing his hair. But I will keep my cool in front of him. Tonight when he's sleeping I will cry.
Five year old KJ successfully underwent his bone marrow transplant on December 5. Receiving bone marrow cells from his three year-old brother Karson. KJ did great, facing the transplant infusion with the same strength... and courage that he has shown throughout his medical care to date. He is an amazing boy, and the entire transplant team at the University of Michigan have been truly amazing and supportive.
So what's next?.. Now we wait..within 1-2 weeks after receiving new bone marrow, KJ's white blood cell count will continue to decrease and may remain low until new bone marrow cells begin to grow. Without white blood cells to fight bacteria, viruses and fungi, KJ is at a greater risk of developing infections.
He will remain hospitalized through December 31 or longer, if need be. Whatever it takes!
We are getting by with God's blessings and your prayers and support, please keep them coming as we still have a long road ahead.
Keith McKenzie, Jr., KJ for short, was diagnosed with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) at birth. His parents, Tamiko and Keith Sr. were devastated by the diagnosis. For the first five years of his life, KJ was on a daily liquid penicillin regime, a course of action that proved to be productive as he didn't exhibit any physical signs of the disease.
KJ's sickle cell began to manifest a few months before his 5th birthday, doctor's informed his parents that he was at risk of suffering strokes due to the lack of blood flow in his brain. To prevent him from suffering unimaginable pain, KJ began a series of blood transfusions.
We were inspired by the many stories of successful bone marrow transplants used to cure sickle cell disease. Three years ago we had the surprise of our lives when we learned we were pregnant with twins! Concerned that the twins could also have the disease, they were tested in utero and they were found to be sickle cell free. And,the news just gets better from here, KJs's twin brothers, Kalen & Karson are a perfect bone marrow match for their big brother.
So the journey to cure KJ begins. His treatment plan consists of 10 days of chemo, 1 day transplant of stem cells, 6 weeks or more of hospitalization. First 100 days after discharge will be followed by 1 to 2 times a week clinic appointments; they will become less frequent as he recovers.
Many people have expressed interest in supporting our family as we embark on this year long journey to cure KJ of sickle cell. Many of the costs are covered by insurance. All donations will help for temporary lodging, food, and travel expenses. Other costs include medical and prescriptions not covered by insurance.
Of course, financial help is not the only way to offer support. You can send cards, letters or emails; and most of all send your prayers! Mail can be sent to KJ McKenzie & Family 35560 Grand River #227 Farmington Hills, MI 48335-3120.
Thanking you in advance for your prayers, love, support and other acts of kindness.